Fairfield honors nine of its own

World War II veteran U. S. Marine (ret.) George Alexander, center, with Lake Wateree residents Tibi and Sandra Czentye who escaped from Communist Romania 30 years ago to come to America. The Czentyes have made their home in Fairfield County for 19 years. | Photos: Barbara Ball

WINNSBORO – It was a cold, bright sunny morning. Big band music from the 1940’s wafted across the lawn as guests gathered and took their seats in a half circle in front of the World War II memorial on the Green of the Mt. Zion Institute

Major Whittenburg salutes for the posting of the colors by Benedict College Army ROTC at the World War II Memorial on the Green at Mt. Zion Institute.

The ceremony began with the posting of the colors, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the singing of the national anthem.

From 10 a.m. – noon, Saturday morning, members of the community gave thanks to America’s military veterans, but especially to their own, both the living and the dead.

Winnsboro Mayor Roger Gaddy led the community in honoring service men and women, past and present, who represented all of America’s military branches. They paid special homage to the nine living Fairfield County World War II veterans, three of whom were in attendance – Sidney Squirewell, the oldest at 101; Palmer Boulware and George Alexander.

Gaddy reminded those in attendance that they were sitting in the presence of the greatest generation.

As the theme song for each branch of the U.S. military was played, current and retired members of that branch stood. World War II veteran George Allen, U.S. Marine, 94, rose to the Marine Hymn, then stood tall and straight, gripping his cane, with his eyes locked straight ahead until the song ended.

World War II veteran George Alexander, U.S. Marine Corp, stood for the playing of the Marine Hymn.

Major Rev. Richard Hodges, USAF (Ret.), spoke of his own family’s service – children, aunts, uncles, parents and grandparents who served and still serve honorably at home and around the world.

Following the Laying of the Wreath at the World War II memorial, Taps was played, the benediction was given by Fairfield County Council Chairman Neil Robinson and the colors were retired.

But before the crowd dispersed, one by one, they lined up to have their photos taken with the World War II veterans.  It was a rare opportunity they might not have again.

Following the ceremony, the 75 or so guests visited with each other and enjoyed refreshments.

The ceremony was organized by the Fairfield County Historical Society, Genealogy Society and the Fairfield County Museum staff. Prior to the Saturday ceremony, members of these organizations, their committees and an army of volunteers placed American flags on the hundreds of military graves in Fairfield’s cemeteries.